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Devils Lake Journal - Devils Lake, ND
  • Michelle Teheux: Ray Bradbury had some things right, some wrong


  • Before Ray Bradbury died last week at age 91, he had earned the right to say “I told you so.” Anybody who has read his best-known work — “Fahrenheit 451” — knows Bradbury did a pretty good job of predicting in 1953 what some things in life would be like in 2012.

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  • Before Ray Bradbury died last week at age 91, he had earned the right to say “I told you so.”

    Anybody who has read his best-known work — “Fahrenheit 451” — knows Bradbury did a pretty good job of predicting in 1953 what some things in life would be like in 2012.

    No, we don’t have firemen burning down the houses of those who dare to keep books. We don’t have to, actually. No need to ban books when a good number of people have abandoned them voluntarily.

    But Bradbury’s descriptions of people living empty lives as they go about with “seashells” pumping music into their ears at all times, not to mention incredibly inane TV programming on large screens, sound rather familiar, don’t they?

    Born in Illinois, Bradbury could evoke a Midwestern summer from his childhood memories as well he could spin tales set on Mars drawn completely from his imagination. Both made for very good reading, and both were appreciated by serious literary critics.

    I always appreciate a fellow technophobe, and Bradbury was even more of a Luddite than I am — he famously wouldn’t allow his books to be released as ebooks, finally allowing his publisher to issue “Fahrenheit 451” electronically only if it could be downloaded free via libraries.

    For all the things he foresaw, I don’t think he recognized that the technology of electronic books actually makes books more available.

    I will always hang onto my large library of printed books, but I also have a growing collection of electronic books as well. I absolutely love that I can carry as many books in my pocket as I have in my entire house. That’s not a small number, either — I have five bookcases plus numerous boxes and crates overstuffed with printed books.

    I love being able to pull a book off the shelf and press it on a friend, and I love that even the most unknown volumes are there to possibly catch somebody’s eye someday. I have books I love that I’ve found in second-hand bookstores, books I would never have sought out if they hadn’t just happened to catch my eye.

    But I also love to be able to bring up an electronic book at whim anytime I happen to have a few minutes of leisure open up unexpectedly. For someone who all but worships books and can barely operate the most basic electronics, I was a surprisingly easy convert to electronic books.
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    Perhaps if Bradbury had had the luck to live and write just a few more years, he might have been as comfortable reading a book from a hand-held screen as some of his characters were traveling on rocket ships.

    Michelle Teheux may be reached at mteheux@yahoo.com.
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